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Student travels 26 countries over 4 years filming proposal to girlfriend

May 23, 2014 at 9:17 AM ET

While he didn't quite walk 500 miles, Jack Hyer traveled much farther than that to propose to his girlfriend.

The recent University of Montana graduate spent the past four years filming himself in 26 countries lip-syncing to the same song, resulting in a proposal video he presented on the night of the couple’s commencement.

Hyer said he knew he would marry Rebecca Strellnauer from their very first date. He even has proof in his travel journal.

“I’m going to marry this girl eventually,” he wrote on Sept. 30, 2010.

He hatched his plan shortly afterward. It started when he was in London’s Heathrow airport and the Proclaimers’ song “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)” came on, he told TODAY.com in an email.

“I heard the song playing and thought of my girlfriend,” he said about the ditty, in which a man proclaims his love for his sweetheart despite being separated by a great distance.

Hyer shot the video as his travels throughout the next several years took him across Europe to Israel, Greece, Turkey and France. He also headed to Asia, filming in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and China. The last part of the video took place in Africa, where he and his girlfriend volunteered at an orphanage.

“We went on a safari and I secretly filmed that last few clips,” he said. “I told a few of the people who filmed it that I intended to make a video of me singing the song around the world, but no one knew that I intended to use it to propose.”

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Hyer showed the video to Strellnauer and their friends at a graduation gathering, introducing it as a “graduation slideshow." It was actually a setup for his proposal, which he also captured on video.

"I've been on many adventures. I've traveled on elephant, on camelback, hiked to the lowest point on the earth and I got to see some of the highest," he told everyone. "But the best adventure I've had is loving Becca."

He then presented her with an engagement ring on bended knee.

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Hyer said he knew he would eventually marry Strellnauer but wanted to take his time before asking.

“I didn't want to propose right away. I didn't trust myself being only 19 years old,” he said. “I wanted to see the world and did it mostly without her. Now I [want] to see the other half with her. It also made sense to wait until after college ended to get engaged.”

Hyer came up with the video initially as “something awesome that could exploit my travels throughout the year" and has been surprised by the attention it has received .

“Ultimately my inspiration was to do something fun and creative. I never thought it would blow up,” he said. “I only put it up to conveniently share with relatives.”

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